Senator Abetz announces workplace changes at AMMA mining conference

Speaking at the 2013 AMMA Tasmania Conference, the Coalition Government’s Minister for Employment Eric Abetz announced key changes to Australia’s workplace laws.

Resource industry  Image credit: flickr.com User: Queenie-v
Resource industry
Image credit: flickr.com User: Queenie-v

According to a media release by AMMA, the new regulations are set to be introduced in parliament early next year, with a specific goal of supporting a more competitive national resource industry.

Minister Abetz said the Coalition will be focusing on changes to laws governing union entry to work sites and the negotiations of wages and conditions for new resource projects (“greenfields”), in an attempt to restore the balance lost when the Rudd/Gillard labor Government drastically changed the laws in favor of unions.

“We will ensure that union right-of-entry protections are sensible and fair, balancing the need for workers to be represented if they wish with the need for workplaces to run without unnecessary disruption,” Senator Abetz told AMMA members in Hobart.

“The way that right of entry operates under the Fair Work Act is not balanced and is not based on common sense. When I hear of one project experiencing 200 union visits in just three months it is clear there are issues with the system that need to be addressed.”

Mr. Abetz said that the Coalition Government will discard the changes made by the previous government and will cut the “lunch-room invasion” and the “joy rides” for union bosses to offshore sites at company expense.

The other important area set to undergo changes in regulation is the workplace negotiation process for new projects, referred to by Mr. Abetz as “greenfield” agreements.

“Unions should not have the power to effectively veto the commencement of new projects or extract exorbitant wages and conditions by refusing to sign up to a greenfields agreement.”

“The current model for greenfields agreements delays construction projects, is bad for jobs, bad for businesses and is bad for the Australian economy,” the Senator said.

AMMA’s chief executive Steve Knott said AMMA and its members have been front-runners of calling for changes and highlighted the importance of changes in these two areas.

“It is highly appropriate that Senator Abetz used a forum of AMMA members today to make significant announcements on major concerns for resource industry employers,” Mr. Knott said.

“The government’s approach will help ensure not only that resource industry employees remain among the highest paid, but that new projects can come to market in Australia, delivering more jobs.”

He said the AMMA welcomes the Government’s initiative for changes in these two critical areas and called on all members of Parliament to progress these changes urgently.

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